Christmas 2021: Gifts for kids of all ages from Irish companies

Something for everyone, from books with props to teen confidence kits

Have yourself a Von Trapp Christmas

Have yourself a Von Trapp Christmas

 

Christmas is a big deal here. Not just Christmas itself but the build-up and the preparation and the near military planning that goes into getting ready for the festive season. I loved it long before I had my children, but their presence gives me an excuse to be childlike about the occasion. (I know if my mother reads this she’ll think “Eh, since when did you need an excuse?”)

Still, prepping for the season of goodwill is not for the faint-hearted when you’ve Von Trapp-esque proportions, but my larger family has prolonged the magic for the older children for many more years than might have been expected if those pesky, younger siblings hadn’t come along. Each year, as the younger children sit down to write their letters to Santa, they’re joined by their older brothers and sister, who help out those not yet able to write such important letters independently. And while they’re at it, they write their own letters to Santa too (even the 20-year-old) before carefully placing them at the fireplace to be magicked up the chimney when the elf postmen are doing their rounds.

It’s tradition, you see, and traditions really matter to me.

There are those we adopted from our own childhood experiences and the new ones we’ve made for our own family. There are the ones the kids know about and expect, and the ones they’re oblivious to. It was news to me that Santa didn’t wrap the presents he delivers to everyone’s house. In fact, when my husband told me Santa had never wrapped his presents growing up, I was convinced he was mistaken. It made no difference; Santa decided that first Christmas he visited our house 21 years ago that he would wrap the gifts. I wonder if he’d have made a different choice had he realised there’d be seven children to wrap for in due course.

This year there’s been lots of talk of shortages, and of the gifts, toys and treats people might struggle to secure. The advice has been to shop early. It’s not even on children’s radar, of course, because Santa’s magic, right?

Presence, not presents, is what we’re told matters. And it’s absolutely true, but while older children may understand, cliches, no matter how true, don’t necessarily make things any less stressful for parents during the magic years.

Meaningful

We didn’t manage the “meaningful Christmas” we’d been promised last year. After months of separation from my children’s grandparents, the Covid case numbers were just too high for them to feel comfortable risking a meet-up. Presence was going to be sorely lacking, except in the shape of our own version of rent-a-crowd. I feared Christmas day might even resemble a usual Sunday dinner, except with fairy lights and perhaps slightly fewer objections to the vegetables on offer that day.

In the end, ruining the potential for this to be a deep and meaningful Christmas story, in the absence of people, it was a present that mattered most. Santa managed to pull off a Christmas miracle and somehow deliver the elusive PS5 by the seat of his red velvet pants. Even now recalling the absolute shock and delight on Christmas morning on the faces of those old enough to understand Santa’s production challenges, and who had accepted it was an impossible ask, makes me smile. It shouldn’t have mattered to me as much, but after the year that had been, it did.

I’m looking forward to things being more about the people this year and so are the children. But presents still feature. The letters have been written, and in spite of my constant reminders, I know some contain requests for toys that don’t even exist. “Put down surprises too,” I suggested helpfully. “That way if Santa can’t make what you’re looking for, he can bring something else he’ll know you’d like instead.”

“Brexit and Covid means there’s delays getting parts to the elf workshop,” I added by way of explanation to the smallies. But they weren’t listening. They were deep in discussion about a “super cool” lightsaber.

“How does Santa always know the things we’ll like?” another child asked curiously. “Because he’s magic” I replied. “Sometimes he even knows better than you do,” I continued, figuring it was no harm to remind them, in case Christmas miracles were off the agenda this year.

The countdown and prep has begun. May be the Force be with parents everywhere.

GIFT IDEAS FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES

With warnings of stock shortages and supply issues, finding that ideal gift could prove a little trickier this year. But fear not, we’ve got you covered with lots of ideas for children’s Christmas gifts. From tots to teens, there’s something for everyone – and they’re all from Irish businesses too.

For the younger ones (0-12 years)

Bainisteoir Board Game
Lead your county to All-Ireland glory as you manage your finances and develop your squads, while buying players along the way. All 32 counties, New York and London are represented in the game. Price: €34.99 and available to buy at bainisteoirboardgame.ie.

Mad Matter
Mad Mattr

Mad Mattr
Mad Mattr never dries out, no matter how long it is left out, so it can be used over and over again. Not only is Mad Mattr perfect for relaxing and calming, but it’s also great for strengthening fingers, hands and wrists. Price €35.95 at discoveryplaytime.ie.

Gorilla Gym
Gorilla Gym

Gorilla Gym
The Gorilla Gym is easy to install on your door frame, with no drilling, and is so sturdy that it’s suitable for the whole family. A great option for staying active all year round. Price €180 at sensationalkids.ie.

Hullabaloo T-shirt design kit
Make your own T-shirt with lots of themes to choose from, including unicorns, soccer, cats, dogs, space and Christmas. Price €22 at hullabaloo.ie.

Babble boxes
Babble boxes

Babble boxes
Aimed at children aged 0-6, Babble boxes contain storybooks and characters, puppets, wooden toys and props to bring the story to life through reading aloud, songs, rhyme and play. Prices are €32-€60 at thebabblingbookclub.com.

Customised clothes
Customised clothes

Personalised Lounge suit
For the fashion and comfort-conscious baby – a personalised lounge suit with name on the leg and corresponding initial on the top. With an elasticated waist for comfort. Price €22, from lilylavendercreations.iproduct-page/personalised-lounge-suite.

Johnny Magory Book
Johnny Magory Book

Johnny Magory Book
Johnny Magory Foul Faeries is the first chapter book in the Johnny Magory series, aimed at readers aged 7-11. The book is printed in dyslexia-friendly font, price €8.40 at johnnymagory.com.

Clever Tots Toy Club
Clever Tots Toy Club

Toy Club subscription
Clever Tots Toy Club subscription service delivers four sustainably sourced and developmentally appropriate toys to tots aged three months to three years every month and then replaces them four weeks later. A subscription costs €40 per month (discounts apply for longer subscriptions). Vouchers at clevertots.ie.

Wobbel Board
Wobbel Board

Wobbel board
Play any way you want – balance, rock, lie, use as a seesaw, slide, prop for imaginative play, the options are endless with a wobbel board. Priced at €135 and available from rainbowkidsboutique.ie.

Mini goals and football
Mini goals and football

Mini goals and football
Easy to set up and won’t take up as much space as a regular-sized net. Get them active early, and practising those penalty shots. Price €15.99 and available from kaliedy.com.

Motors & Generators
Motors & Generators

Motors and Generators
Learn about motors, generators and magnets to build simple circuits and conduct 25 experiments with the Thames and Kosmos Motors and Generators kit. Suitable for ages eight-plus. Price €31.99 and available at nimblefingers.ie.

And for the older ones (12 - 18+)

Bangle
This silver-plated expandable unicorn bangle can be personalised with three charms – a letter/initial, birth stone and unicorn and comes in both ladies and child sizes. (There are also personalised daughter and personalised star-sign variations of the bangle available.) Price €25 at busybeaders.com.

Orca Board package
Orca Board package

Paddle Board Package
A great way to introduce a teenager to the water. The Orca Board package includes everything you need to get out on the water safely. Included in the package are an inflatable stand-up Orca Board paddle board, three-piece paddle, kayak paddle attachment, personal flotation device, waterproof phone cover and lots more. Price €499 at orcaboard.ie.

Glitterlight with Bluetooth Enabled Speaker
Glitterlight with Bluetooth Enabled Speaker

Glitterlight with Bluetooth Enabled Speaker
This glitter light with Bluetooth-enabled speaker could be perfect for an older child or teenager’s bedroom, or to complete a sensory room. Price €27.50 at sensationalkids.ie.

Teen Skin Self Care Kit
The Teen Skin Kit from Milk Bath contains all natural ingredients, including activated charcoal to decongest and purify pores, and Irish organic oats to reduce inflammation. Price €24.95 at milkbath.ie.

Arm Knitting Yarn
Arm Knitting Yarn

Arm Knitting Yarn
As the name suggests, arm knitting is like regular knitting except using your arms instead of needles, meaning you can knit a large blanket in under an hour. A 90cm x 100cm blanket kit costs €50 at baabaabandits.com.

Silk Pillowcase
Not just a little bit of luxury at bedtime. Along with providing for a comfy night’s sleep, silk pillowcases can be kinder to teenage hair and skin. Price €70 at thesil kpillowcase.com.

Speech and Drama voucher
Speech and Drama voucher

Speech and Drama voucher
Boost confidence, creativity and communication skills with a voucher for speech and drama classes. Aoife O’Kane teaches speech and drama in person in Cork, but students around Ireland can take part in online classes. Price €222 per term (10-12 weeks) at aokartsacademy.ie.

Dumbbells
Dumbbells

Dumbbells
For teens who enjoy resistance training (or would like to start), dumbbells can be used for a number of exercises. And while most people think of dumbbells in terms of arm-related exercises, they can be used for a full body workout. Price €60 at warriorsteel.ie.

Confidence box
Confidence box

Confidence box
Aimed at teenage girls, this gift box contains The Confidence Code for Girls Journal, wash and wear period pants, friendship bracelets and a card. Price €45 at thebookresort.ie.

ActiVacation
ActiVacation

ActiVacation Board Game
The aim of the game is to get to the airport for a flight home before lockdown after an activity-based trip to every continent in the world. En route, players answer, barter, buy, sell and negotiate their way to win. ActiVacation costs €50 at activacation.ie.

Buachaill boxers
Buachaill boxers

Boxers
Because socks and jocks are part of Christmas. A distinctly Irish underwear brand, Buachaill boxers are available in four sizes and can be purchased individually or in packs of three. Price (pack of 3) €39.99 at buachaill.com.